Happy Family: A Memoir in Past and Present Tense
My mother was smart, witty, self-centered, and a chronic alcoholic. My father—my anchor—was presumed lost at sea for ten terrifying days when I was seventeen. At twelve, I was sexually assaulted, triggering fierce independence rather than fear or shame. In my thirties and forties, I sailed alone across oceans, and fought to sustain a marriage to a man I loved more than he loved me.
In 2020, as pandemic raged, I forged a new relationship with the past.
In the photo below, that’s me on my mother's lap, with my sister Layne to the right and Tommy to the left. Below that, the two of us with our father.
Happy Family is told through two entwined narratives. The first spans a century and four continents—expatriatism, secret marriages, trauma, strong bonds, sudden loss. The shorter, present-tense narrative unfolds close to home in the San Francisco Bay area between September 2019 and April 2021. As America emerges from lockdown and the narratives merge, I’m eyeing the future.